The debut from British Rock band SHY “Once Bitten…Twice…” is pretty rough to listen to. It’s very raw, almost demo level production. You do hear traces of what the band would become, it’s quite impressive how they did improve over the years.
You can already hear that Tony Mills (R.I.P.) has an amazing voice. His style here is very rooted in the 70’s Pop music, they hadn’t really found their angle yet and it was pretty sappy at times. The band is all over the place too, subpar drumming and lack of focus.
It would however be enough to get SHY a major label deal for their next release in 1985 “Brave The Storm”. That album would continue with their AOR Pop style, but with a bit more focus and direction.
The UK-based band SHY had already an album under their belt from a couple years earlier called “Once Bitten…Twice…” that really only accomplished on thing. Singer Tony Mills is a phenomenal singer even with poor production and average songs.
On 1985 “Brave The Storm” got them a major label deal, and I have to think it was mostly, if not all, due to Tony Mills. The songs are still dated, almost 70’s Pop still, as they seemed to be trapped between decades. SHY isn’t really a “Hair” band, they’re a cross between several different styles and in the process they don’t fit into any category.
Tony Mills can sound a lot like Geddy Lee, especially on “The Hunter”, but he’s also got some Jon Anderson mixed in there too from YES. The problem is the band is no where near that caliber, and the lyrics are (and were) pretty cheesy.
Needless to say, they showed massive signs of improvement on this album and would finally find success here in the states on their next album “Excess All Areas”, where they would finally find their voice and become more of a Rock band.
Britain’s SHY’S third album had to be their make or break album. After a couple of misses that showed potential you would think they would have to do something bigger on “Excess All Areas”. And for the most part they come through with a solid AOR album that was radio ready.
Unlike so many bands from the early 80’s and the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, SHY had to actually get HEAVIER to get more attention. Bands like Def Leppard had to tone it down, the Los Angeles bands had to do ballads. SHY just had to get tighter and focused.
The problem the still had, and why they never did break the States, is that they sounded more like the older bands like Foreigner, Journey, Asia and others. Amazing bands, but bands like Motely Crue, Ratt, Poison and in a couple years Guns N’ Roses were pushing out those Classic Rock bands. Bon Jovi was even quite a bit heavier than SHY and to the harder rocking and Metal crowd, Bon Jovi was pretty much light rock.
SHY had moment on “Excess All Areas” though. “Break Down The Walls” was a solid rocker that let singer Tony Mills show a tougher side. The track was co-written by Don Dokken. We know he could sing love songs, but he could tear into a song? This track let him get into it a bit more. They did have an interesting cover of “Devil Woman” made famous by Cliff Richard.
But overall SHY fit better into a class with bands like Mr. Mister, Survivor or Glass Tiger. The sound became dated pretty quickly as music was getting darker and heavier.
A couple years have passed since SHY’S breakthrough album “Excess All Areas”. It’s not 1989, they’ve done some tours with some big names so this was another important release for the British band who had a bit of an identity crisis.
Singer Tony Mills had been amazing from the beginning, but was that high pitched clean vocal style still enough to sustain the band. Axl Rose was now on the scene, band in general were heavier and SHY needed to keep up.
Well, it’s was quite evident from the first couple of tracks “Burnin’ Up” and “Money” that they got the message. It was much heavier than before, very bombastic and loaded with attitude. “Never Trust A Stranger” started with the AOR keyboards like their older material, but to their credit, when the song kicked in it was with a solid guitar lick and thunderous drums.
So we have three heavier songs that were decent, you had to think a ballad was soon and you’d be right. However “After The Love Is Gone” was much more of a Power Ballad than their first few albums, so they have kept the “arena” sound going.
On a side note Tony Mills would join the band TNT in the 2000’s as a replacement for Tony Harnell. I can really hear the similarities between the two on this SHY album, Mills has a mega-strong voice when he wants to belt it out.
“Give It All You Got” came up next, a full-blown Glam Metal anthem that shows how far the band had come in the past 5 years or so. “Shake The Nation” was another solid anthem in that same vein. The rest of the album contain more average rockers that could have almost qualified as filler.
The production was one again a big issues for SHY. It’s improved dramatically, but it was a little sloppy here with some level issues. With the competition so strong in the 1989 you really needed to have a better overall product to break through to the next level.